Our lives can turn on a dime. And something as small a dime can take your breath away. Or in my case, keep you from breathing. That happened to me at dinner Sunday evening. I’d been on a cooking streak, like some Amish woman feeding the laborers at a barn-raising to feed Rod and his brother who were repairing our shed. Sunday was a full day, with several meetings, and my own share of manual labor moving woodchips from our driveway to our flower beds, and planting perennials. So I suggested we get dinner out. It was our third venture into a restaurant, and we were thankful to be one of only two tables occupied.
I ordered a salad, steak and pasta, and was enthusiastically digging in while discussing a book I was reading. Then, with a bite of steak still in my mouth, I inhaled. I do not recommend such a move, as it lodged in my throat, and my attempts to cough it out, or wash it down with water didn’t work. Rod jumped into action as soon as he realized what was happening. He was on his way to perform a Heimlich maneuver as one of the other diners, a strong and strapping man over 6 feet tall with ruddy complexion, said, “I can help.” Rod stepped aside and the stranger got behind me, and began to wrap his arms around me to use the Heimlich maneuver when I finally managed to clear my throat.
It was terrifyingly fast, and the irony of not being able to breathe in the age of COVID19, George Floyd and a parishioner’s fatal heart attack were not lost on me. We sat back down and attempted to finish our meal, although much of it went into a to-go container. When the waitress returned to see if we wanted anything else, we both passed on dessert, and Rod asked for the other diner’s bill. It was a small price to pay for the quick thinking and selfless gesture of an angel dressed in overalls.
There are so many things to be thankful for each day, and one of those things is that the stranger didn’t check out my politics or religion or skin color, if I had a fever or had travelled out of state or been exposed to someone with COVID in the past 14 days. He just helped, no questions asked, no judgments made. He simply reacted with compassion to help a chocking diner. I certainly didn’t try to stop him because he might not meet my own checklist of “correct” beliefs.
Jesus was asked by an expert in the law what was needed to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
I wonder what would happen if we all acted that way?
Mom was right about not talking with food in your mouth. (In fact, I’m sure she had a friend by the name of Christine who did so with fatal results.) ~ Anne